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Into Juba’s heat

We changed flights for the short hop to Juba.  Addis, at over a mile high, had a fresh feel to it, but getting off the plane in Juba we hit the heat – must have been in the high 30s. Bit of a scrum at immigration and after a brief delay and a worrying “where are our bags” routine we were on our way to the Sahara Resort hotel. Kash, the acting UK country director met us at the airport, and it was great to see him. Patience, the country director is on rest and relaxation leave (which aims to give staff working in difficult circumstances a chance to recuperate).

The road from the airport gives you a false sense of the country’s development in that there is only 12 km of tarmac road in the country.  The rest is heavily rutted and you need a 4×4 to get around.

As we were late, we went straight to the office to meet up with Francisco, the UP designate country director, along with the US and Sweden country directors and finished up with a security briefing. I have not seen the UP process first hand before – it is clearly very demanding, but under Franciso’s direction it is under control. It is good to see how well the UK, US and Swedish teams are working together to achieve the UP goals in what must be unsettling times.

With the UK as managing member of Unified Presence, the base scenario has a total programme spend of approx £12 million, which would make us the largest INGO in South Sudan. It is also good that among the three members, we have a complementary presence and we are in 9 of the 10 states – this gives a large footprint with small to large presences in particular areas. With this I think there is real growth potential.  It is also excellent that we are all in the same office.  UP has already started in a low key way in some areas with HR and security.  There is much to do, but we were very encouraged by how well the team is working together in such uncertain circumstances.

This is a working day in the office – the office is open every day.  We also have meetings scheduled for tomorrow.

The security briefing is really important as this is a country on the edge and the security of our staff is taken very seriously.  After dinner I called it a night… I was whacked.

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